Domestic Selection: Zinfandel, 1991. Bogle Vineyards

Chris Bogle is the fifth genera­tion of Bogies to farm the fertile Sacramento River Delta region of northern California. In 1968, Chris helped his father, Warren, plant their first vineyard. Then, in 1973, they formed Bogle Vine­yards. With nearly 650 acres under vine, the winery is virtually self sufficient in fruit. In some cases, however, in order to produce the best possible example of each va­rietal, the winery secures fruit from other grape growing regions.

Bogle’s winemaker, Christo­pher Smith, received his degree in Enology from California State University Fresno. He spent four years on the winemaking staff at Jordan. Then he became assistant winemaker for Kendall-Jackson, a winery that obtains grapes from the finest vineyard sources throughout the state. His experi­ence there, blending prime grapes from diverse locations, has proven an invaluable asset. His goal at Bogle has been to produce the best wine values in California. The fruit for this wine comes from El Dora­do County and Santa Barbara, two of California’s best Zinfandel are­as.

For years, viticulturists have been trying to find this grape’s ori­gin, looking to Italy and Hungary as possible sources. Only one thing has become certain: in this world only California produces this delicious, unique red wine.

Some Zinfandel is produced as a white wine (or “blush”), by sep­arating the fermenting juice from the skins early on in processing. Some is made into a high alcohol, tannic monster, which might win a Gold Medal, but you wouldn’t ne­cessarily want any with your din­ner. And some, like our selection, becomes a balanced and graceful, rich assortment of flavors, a de­light to the eye, nose and palate.

This wine exhibits a medium-dark garnet/ruby color that has a lovely fresh pink hue at the edges. It has an intense “jammy” nose, like brambleberries and Damson plum, highlighted by some pine and camphor notes. A smooth me­dium-rich body features beautiful ollalieberry flavors with a hint of black pepperiness plus perfect acid balance. The wine finishes entirely clean, with just a hint of tannin, while the berry/plum flavors linger on.

Serve slightly chilled with sausage pizza, Thai beef stew (slightly sweet, spiked with allspice and star anise) or French bread spread with fresh strawberry puree and pine nuts, blended into cream cheese.

Cellaring notes: At its peak. Drink over next year and a half.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

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